Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Ayudha Puja

Yup – another day of festivities and day off for most people in India – but not our school. Today was the day of Ayudha Puja, which means the Worship of the Weapons. This festival is observed in honor of the Goddess Durga, who after destroying demons, her devotees thanked her weaponry for protecting them.

Although there are variations around India, the basic festival entails people blessing tools they use with which they make a living, showing respect towards these tools and cleaning them. It also reminds people of their dependence on tools and necessity in daily life.

To celebrate, vehicles, including the ubiquitous “tuk-tuk” autos, are cleaned and decorated for this day. Shopkeepers would also decorate their stores. On the front of the vehicles and framing many shops one could find stalks of banana leaves tied together, bright garlands of flowers, and sandalwood paste splattered or carefully applied in designs. A tailor might clean and decorate his sewing machine, while a housekeeper might do the same for her stove or washing machine.

When going for a walk after school, I saw busses with the banana leaf/floral decorations, also present on bicycles, motorcycles/motorbikes, and the aforementioned vehicles. Palm leaves were carefully folded in an almost origami-like hanging. Men balanced on rickety-looking bamboo ladders, hanging the palm leaf strands or stringing bright yellow garlands of flowers over their store entrances and sign. On the ground, watermelons were spattered, their brilliant interiors contrasting with the dust-covered pavement. I also noticed other fruits splattered on the ground too – will have to find out why. Alongside the roads women and men alike were busy stringing the floral garlands, so high in demand, the strands coiled like a tall snake. Others were busy buying the items, carrying their puja purchases in the golden light.

To see more photos of the Ayudha Puja and other Indian Festivities, visit my Flickr set


Rachel Sarah said...

Nice photos. I don't think there is any nation in the world that has more holidays than India.

Rachel Sarah said...
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Melissa Enderle said...

I agree. If we had off of school for every festival/holiday, we'd be going to school until early July and starting up at the end of July! It does perk things up and offer excitement amidst the wearing heat, traffic, and other daily complexities.